When to Go Ghost Hunting

When is the best time to go ghost hunting?

Many researchers prefer to investigate after dark.

Are ghosts more active at night? I’m not sure. Maybe the darkness makes it easier for us to notice them. After all, in the dark, we have fewer visual distractions.

For me, it’s more important to investigate at anniversaries. They’re the dates when someone at that site died, or married, or something significant happened. (Birthdays can be surprisingly good days for ghost hunting, too.)

This video shares more about the best times — days and hours — for ghost hunting.

Of course, your results may be different. If you have suggestions, I hope you’ll share them with Hollow Hill readers. Leave your comments (and questions) at this site.

I’ve created a When to Go Ghost Hunting Worksheet, as well as an instruction sheet for using it.

The worksheet includes more than just times and days. I’ve also added lines for possible triggers that may improve your research results.

The worksheet instructions feature even more suggestions related to research, era cues, and other ways to enhance your investigations, specific to each location.

Here are the PDF links (on Google Drive):

When to Go Ghost Hunting – Worksheet / https://drive.google.com/open?id=1_HSWKNTnx8bFmS7r7lFNtAz9YJH9Izh0

When to Go Ghost Hunting – Worksheet Instructions / https://drive.google.com/open?id=111_cv7Xzo0CaH2TI2NEzYpvp9jMpPZfp

Kinds of Cemeteries

If you’re planning to investigate ghosts in haunted cemeteries, you’ll need to know which cemeteries are in your community.

Different kinds of cemeteries can provide different research opportunities and results.

An abundance of metal in a haunted Columbus (TX) cemetery.
This Columbus (TX) cemetery is lovely, and has an abundance of related ghost stories. Even in the daytime, visitors may see (or photograph, or record) anomalies.

Generally, I look for cemeteries with graves from the 19th century. I prefer cemeteries that are open to the public from dawn to dusk, or later.

However, if a haunted site has been over-visited or over-researched, its energy can be diluted.

In my opinion, the lingering residual energy — from startled or enthusiastic ghost hunters — can mask older residual energy from the ghost, or impressions from the ghost himself.

So, private cemeteries can have an energy advantage, as long as I can get permission to investigate them.

Here are some categories of cemeteries:

  • Church graveyards, usually next to the church, but they may be moved if the real estate becomes valuable enough to justify the move. (That’s the case next door to Salem’s “Witch House.“)
  • Family plots and cemeteries. They’re where early homesteaders (and others) sometimes buried their relatives. Today, those graves may remain — marked or unmarked — near old homes. Others may have been moved to community cemeteries. (And, in some cases, bodies or body parts may have been overlooked.)
  • Battlefield cemeteries. Sometimes they’re just pits where the bodies were buried, en masse, with or without a marker.
  • Community cemeteries, sometimes built around earlier church graveyards or family plots. Research their history to find out what was there. In some cases, like at South Street Cemetery in Portsmouth (NH, USA), the site may have included a gallows.

I describe other kinds of cemeteries — and some of the pros & cons of researching them — in my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

Haunted Cemeteries – Look for Connections

Here’s an interesting pattern I’ve noticed when I’m investigating haunted cemeteries: Where I find one member of a family with a gravestone that seems to stand out, I look for a relative with a second “odd” gravestone.

Usually — but not always — it’s nearby, but not necessarily in the same plot enclosure.

When two or more related gravestones (or graves) hold my interest, there’s usually a story to be told.

For example, the following photos shows the memorial of Capt. Bird Holland. It’s a classic example of the respect given to fallen soldiers in the War Between the States.

This tribute stands out because the inscription is so ornate.

However — for me, as a paranormal researcher — something more than that seemed odd. At the time, I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Memorial to Capt. Bird HollandCaptain Holland was a widower at the time of his death.

His wife, Matilda Rust Holland, preceded him in 1858, after only one year of marriage.

Her apparent grave is unusual, for another reason: Only leaves fill the space beneath the horizontal stone. (I’ve indicated that space with a red rectangle.)

The leaves are inside some ornate ironwork. I assume her body is there, under the ground, but it is an unusual grave design.

Open area at Matilda Rust Holland's grave marker.Recently, my research into the Holland family uncovered an interesting history. Bird Holland may have fathered as many as three sons — Milton, William, and James — by a second woman named Matilda Holland. She was a slave on Bird’s father’s plantation.

During or shortly before the 1850s, Bird purchased freedom for those three sons (but not their brother, Toby, who may have had a different father) and sent the them to school in Ohio.

In the Civil War, Bird Holland fought on the side of the Confederacy.

His son, Milton, was a Union soldier and led the troops in a battle at Petersburg, Virginia.

Both men were heroes.

You can read more of the story here: Milton Holland, born August 1st, 1844, and in the book Texas Cemeteries by Bill Harvey. (If I’d had that information when I was researching in Austin, Texas, I might have had better EVP results.)

My point is: When you see one unusual gravestone, keep it in mind as you continue your research.

When you find a second, related grave that seems “odd,” historical research may improve your investigation results.

Frankly, I’d love to ask Matilda Rust Holland how she felt about her husband’s sons.

And, I’d be interested in how Bird felt about his son Milton’s heroism — being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor — for his valor during the war… fighting for the other side.

Damaged Gravestones and Neglected Graves

When ghost hunting in haunted cemeteries, I always look for damaged gravestones. In many cases, we find paranormal energy around those graves and markers.

Sometimes the person named on them is indignant or grief-stricken over what’s happened.

That’s understandable. The grave was his or her final resting place, and it’s been neglected or even vandalized. There’s no excuse for that.

Usually, there’s little we can do besides offer sympathy and consolation. I’m not sure that’s enough to give closure to the spirit, so he (or she) can “cross over.”

However, it’s worth a try.

The following photos show the kinds of damage I’ve seen — and investigated, successfully — in haunted cemeteries.

(Until the photo gallery is restored at this site, this illustration shows the kinds of pictures I’ve featured.)

Damaged graves

For more information about cemetery research, read my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

Every Gravestone Tells a Story

Iron headstone (NH)In the first edition of my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries, I listed signs and symbols to look for on or near gravestones. The artwork and inscriptions can tell a story.

(Until the photo gallery is restored at this site, the following illustration shows the kinds of pictures I’ve featured.)

Unexpected materials in gravestones

Left to right: Wooden grave marker (TX), iron headstone (Henniker, NH), and a zinc monument designed to look like granite (Nashua, NH).

Note: When I’m selecting graves to investigate, I’m always interested in expensive and ornate grave markers. Among them, I focus on neglected and damaged stones, as they usually tell a tragic story of a once-great family or individual.

When a gravestone was expensive, it usually represents an individual or family with wealth and power.

Since that burial, something changed so the grave hasn’t been maintained. It could be enough reason for a haunting.